Capitalism and Happiness Half a World Away

I’m republishing this video from 2009 from our In Search of Shangrila journey. Public discourse about economics, and Capitalism in particular, is distorted by a lack of depth about just what constitutes both. By removing politics, and expanding the conversation to include the people who do the real work of the World’s economic production, we expand our understanding of just how much we share.

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The Wall Street Banker creates wealth with Ones and Zeros on a computer, the vendor at this market in Kampong Chong, Cambodia, creates wealth with sweat and skill. Both seek the same thing, a better life for themselves and their families. Is one superior? Who is happier? Is the pursuit of happiness worthy of being included, and measured, in the world of economics? After traveling 43,000 plus miles around the World at 12 miles per hour on a bicycle, I think it is a worthy goal. Maybe we might just find the vendor is Kampong Chong is just as fulfilled, happy, as the Wall Street Banker. If so how would that change our economic policies?

What do you think?

Ken Steinhoff; Photographer, Story-teller, Road-warrior

Ken Steinhoff and I worked as photojournalists at the Athens Messenger in the late 1960’s. He stayed in the newspaper business, but got bumped up to a desk jockey job, I went on to other things. In retirement Ken went back to what he loves most, telling stories about people, places and history. He posts most of these at http://www.capecentralhigh.com/ We recently got together in Athens and spent a day driving around Southeast Ohio, trying to remember sites of some of our old stories, and catching up. Ken’s new van interior resembles the Volkswagen Squareback he wore out on those same roads. The only difference is it’s fitted with the latest in digital equipment instead of short wave and scanners and the best digital cameras. Oh, and there is more of the driver, and he has less hair than I remember. I’ve aged my share too. Ken has projects planned to keep him busy for the next forty-five years. I hope the road warrior has as many years as he needs. He does really good work. Check out that site.DSCF0527

The New Bohemians in Jefferson’s Garden

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When visiting Monticello most visitors crowd together tightly, with twenty others, for a view of the main floor of the house and call it good. We of course spent most of our time in the gardens. We had our own personal guide and had an audience with the chief gardener, who answered the few questions our guide was unable to answer. We had no schedule, no groups awaited our departure, and we had the space to absorb all that we’d learned about the creative, scientific garden experiments of perhaps our favorite Founding Father.

If you visit Monticello, do take the house tour, but leave a couple of hours for the orchards and gardens. They give as much insight into the mind of Thomas Jefferson as his eclectic approach to architecture. The man who wrote our Declaration of Independence was a scientific thinker, and that should tell us something about how we should guide the future of the Republic.